Standards apply to all school food

Cayman Islands HSA community
dietician and nutritionist Bethany Smith prepared new food provisions that were
introduced to the Cayman Islands public schools for the 2010-11 school year.

The measure was introduced by the
Child Health Task Force in collaboration with the Ministries of Education and
Health to teach young people how to adopt and maintain a healthy, active
lifestyle.

This year’s school menus include
balanced meals containing good sources of protein and starch, accompanied by
lots of vegetables and fruits, healthier drinks.

The standards apply to all foods
sold in Cayman schools.

 

Breakfast, vending machines and after-school clubs

The overall goals of the new school
standards are to ensure good nutrition for growth and development, and promote
healthier eating habits to combat childhood obesity, these food standards apply
to all foods and beverages sold or served throughout the day.

This means that breakfast, break
services, vending machines and after-school clubs also have to comply for the
standards to have any meaningful effect.

The only exceptions to this are
special celebrations – such as birthdays – or events conducted after school
hours, excluding before or after school activities for which the school is
responsible.

Fundraising activities during
school hours should adhere to these standards if food and beverages are being
used.

There is evidence that the
competing sales of nutritionally-poor foods – such as candy, cookies, sweetened
drinks, high fat and high sugar baked goods – used for school fundraisers or as
classroom rewards are associated with a 10 per cent increase in students’ Body
Mass Index, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

In addition, selling junk foods to
children as a way of earning money for the schools undermines the purposes of
nutrition education and the promotion of healthier eating practices, according
to Ms Smith.

The school environment as a whole
should be working to support and reinforce health and wellness policies to
increase the credibility of those messages.

With a little creativity and
willingness to operate outside of the box, schools and the community at large
can benefit through wiser investments in fundraising activities.

Healthier fundraising activities
are not only possible, but also profitable as demonstrated by several schools
who have tried them, both locally and overseas.

A few schools have used raffles,
walk-a-thons, cook books, sports events, and supervised movie nights or
play-times to their benefit.

These are great examples that other
schools could follow or modify for their own purposes.

“It will be interesting to see how
many other ways of generating supplemental revenue will be undertaken in
schools,” Ms Smith said. “However, with consistent involvement from the students,
staff, and PTA, a lot can happen that will support the healthier food standards
and also the fundraising needs at the same time.”

 

Fundraiser ideas

There are many non-food fundraising
alternatives which can be explored to help supplement school budgets. A few of
these are:

Walk-a-thons and fun runs

Book fairs

Non-food product sales (such as
toys, personal care products, plants, candles, school accessories, etc)

Gift wrap sales

Grocery store fundraisers

Scratch cards and discount cards

Auctions

Car washes

Calendars and greeting cards

Bottled water and fruit (especially
at sporting events)

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